It's Al Roker's birthday and the TODAY weatherman is celebrating by raising awareness about a unique farm that not only grows food, but is committed to ending racism within the food system.
Soul Fire Farm, a community-based farming non-profit, was founded by Leah Penniman, who is of Black and Creole ancestry. She was inspired to start the BIPOC-centered community farm in Grafton, New York, a decade ago after she and her husband could find only limited options for fresh produce to feed their children.
Their cause got Al's attention and now he's hoping to raise money for Soul Fire through his first official Facebook fundraiser.
Al first learned about Soul Fire Farm when TODAY Food profiled Leah Penniman last year. He was touched by her mission to empower Black people to become farmers and promote the availability of fresh foods within communities of color.
"I first became aware of Soul Fire Farm last November when TODAYdid a story on Leah Penniman and her amazing organization and the issues of racism and injustice in our modern food system," said Al. "The two concerns for me, as an avid cook, it’s sad that there are so very few healthy and fresh food options available within the inner city and black communities, and something that is also echoed in the 1619 Project — the lack of black farmers operating farms today.
"I’m encouraged that Soul Fire Farm is addressing all of these crucial issues while also training and mentoring the next generation of farmers of color."
At Soul Fire Farm, students from a diverse array of backgrounds learn sustainable farming techniques, like growing and harvesting a variety of fresh produce.
Penniman, who has also authored a book, won a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award for her work facilitating food sovereignty programs.
As of this afternoon, Al was more than halfway to meeting his fundraiser goal and took to Facebook to thank the many friends and fans who have already contributed.
Earlier this month, as part of Rokerthon: The Great American Sandwich Relay, Al teamed up with Feeding America and World Central Kitchen to raise awareness about those facing food insecurity, especially during the pandemic.